Learn How To Tune Up A Mountain Bike || Step By Step Guide

If you have set your bike aside due to winters, or have ridden it hard through the most challenging trails, it would definitely need some tuning to get to work again, better than before, and for that, you would have to work wisely and follow certain steps. It doesn’t matter whether you have an old bike or a new, high-quality one, some TLC is always helpful to keep it going smoothly and comfortably, or else, it might start squeaking or get slowed down.

Rendering some time to its inspection before hitting the streets, would be a very profitable investment as it would even help increase the life span of the bike. A regular tune-up and some cleaning are no big deal, and would keep your bike running like new.

This article provides you with some essential tips and steps to follow during your bike maintenance mission that would save plenty of your pennies, which would rather have gone inside a labor’s pocket. When you have already spent a lot to buy your bike, why waste more? So, have a look at the article below and get working quickly.

Learn How To Tune Up A Mountain Bike

Find A Workspace and A Stand

The first thing you need to do is, look for a large enough, well-lit, empty space, with good ventilation, where you can work on your bike. You must make sure that the floor can cope with some spilling of grease, so that you are not searching for remedies to clean the floor off the grease, later.

If you already own a repair stand, that’s remarkable, as it would make your work a whole lot easier. If not, you may borrow, buy or even work without it with a bit of turning and lifting. Set your bike appropriately over the stand, and begin!

Start Cleaning

Firstly, you have to look over the dust and dirt that the parts of your bike, had been catching for the past few months. This includes the chain and the drivetrain, being the most integral ones. Next in line, are the chain rings, cassettes, pedals and brakes etc.

All you need before beginning, is a sponge, towel, a brush (might be an old toothbrush), and a cleaner. You can use biodegradable cleaners like Simple Green, or particular degreasers like WD40. Various chain-specific cleaners can be found in the market. Make sure that your brush is suitable enough to go inside the minutest parts, and the rollers.

If you’re not intending to use it the same day, it would be better if you leave the chain for soaking overnight. By morning, it would become easy enough to wipe away the dirt and grease with a towel, and for the smaller parts, supposedly, the brush can be used. Another way to remove dirt from the chain would be to cover it with lubricant and then pedal backwards.

Use light sprays instead of streaming jets of water over the bike, which could cause it to rust before the time it would have been otherwise. When you are done with the chain and drivetrain, you can remove the seat post for detailed cleaning. For the cassette, remove the rear wheel and start lubricating. It would also require cleaning like the chain, not ignoring a single inch!

Before reinstalling the cassette and the rear wheel, the chain should essentially be lubricated and set aside for a few minutes, so that it takes in the lube. The cleaning of the frame, pedals and derailleurs would be next. Though you might sometimes need to replace the mountain bike pedals with new ones, as they get damaged quickly if the quality is not good enough.

Inspection Of Brakes

Brakes are one of the most critical and fundamental parts of a vehicle, as they ensure that you have a safe & smooth riding experience. And when it is a mountain bike that we are talking about, their role becomes even more significant, because mountain biking involves very diverse and demanding trails and varying riding styles, from very composed to extremely aggressive.

If the bike has been used inordinately, you must start from the brake pads, as they wear away with time. If you see weary lines, or metal poking or if they measure 3 mm, combined with the metal holder, they definitely need replacing. However, if they seem to be glazed, a little bit of sandpaper can help with it.

Analyze the rotors and cleanse them with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or debris present. Check whether the rotors rub each brake pad equally, and look for any loose bolts. Now squeeze the brake levers to check whether the brake pads hit the rim and the wheels together. If not, then you need to adjust and align them, by first loosening the bolt between brake calipers and the frame, and then retightening it when it’s aligned.

Next, are the cables. In case the cables have loose strands or rust, they might need replacing. You must remove any slacks and add tension to the cables by rolling out the barrel adjuster from the end of the lever. Changing cables can be a tricky task, but it greatly enhances the bike performance, and allows for better shifting and braking capabilities.

If you have hydraulic brakes, you must test them for air bubbles by squeezing them. If you have a squashy feeling, then you must bleed the brakes. If you don’t feel like carrying out this task on your own, you might get to a mechanic for this.

Check For The Tires

Tires should have good cushioning to dampen the thumps and thuds on the road, this depends on its pressure, and offer traction with a multiplicity of surfaces. They need to be taken good care of. Poor condition brakes also affect the tires, so in case your brakes were faulty, they might have caused some damage to tires too.

Examine the tires to find out how much of the tread is left, and look for signs of wear – cracks, tears, peeling knobs, stuck thorns, projecting threads etc. If the tread has worn out, and the tires seem greatly impaired, you must replace them. It shouldn’t worry you, as they are not very expensive.

Now, check the tire pressure using a gauge. The standard is around 40 PSI and above, but a suitable value might be written on the tires. You can keep the front tire at a slightly lower pressure, as most of the weight acts on the rear. The tires naturally loose some air, so you must leave a margin for that too. It is also important that you keep a regular check on the tire pressure.


Good-condition wheels would never rub the brakes, and for a stable and smooth ride, wheels should be properly tuned and trued. You may remove the wheels from the bike to ensure their comprehensive cleaning, as well as that of the frame.

Analyze the wheels thoroughly, and check for the stability of the spokes by squeezing them slightly. The hubs shouldn’t be too snug or too loose, to keep the wheels spinning freely and smoothly. Adjust the spoke tension and alignment of the wheels. If you find hairline cracks near the rim, they should be treated immediately or else they could cause larger problems. If the rims are wobbly, a spoke wrench can help.

If you’re not confident enough to carry out these tasks appropriately, take it to a simple mechanic instead of risking ruining of the whole thing.


The drivetrain consists of pedals, rear wheel cassette, chain, chainrings and derailleurs. It has a very important role in the MTB’s performance, as it transfers the energy generated through the rider’s legs, to the rear wheel, which in turn powers the bike.

Start by lifting up the rear wheel and spinning it. Now, try shifting all the gears. The shifting should be smooth and quick, one cog jumping at a time. If it’s not, check all the components for wear and tear. The smaller chainrings get damaged frequently, and you need to change the chain after riding for every 3000 miles (sometimes even less than that, depending on its condition). Utilizing the chain for more than that can be harmful, as it starts affecting other parts of the drivetrain.

The derailleur housing should be examined for signs that indicate weariness, particularly focusing at the point where the frame and the cables meet. The wires can possibly pull through the ferrules. In this case, you should consider replacing them or the worn-out housing.

Once this is done, reinstall all the parts that were removed for cleaning or inspection.


It’s crucial to know that your bike needs lubrication every month, to keep working efficiently. Otherwise, the parts start rubbing each other and cause damage, affecting the bike’s performance. Over-lubricating can also be detrimental as it would cause the bike to take in more dirt which is another issue.

The following order should be followed: the chain, derailleur, pivot point of the brake levers and any unprotected cables. Apply the lube to all the links of the chain while pedaling backwards, and running gears up and down, so that it spreads evenly throughout. Wipe off the excess oil with a dry rag, simultaneously. Minor rust spots found anywhere over the bike can be removed by gently rubbing with a steel wool.

Then, thoroughly lubricate the cables, because if they are left dry and you are encountered with wet weather conditions, the water goes in and corrodes them, so it’s better to prevent it.

For general day-to-day use of the bike, extra-dry Teflon based lube should be used as it wets the bike but stays dry itself. This reduces the amount of dirt and grime accumulating in parts of the bike. However, if you practice mountain biking near streams, or during rainstorms, you must use wet lubes. One of the most recommended lubes for mountain bikes is the Muc-Off wet, you might use this one too.

Extra Mountain Bike Tips-Step By Step Learn How To Tune Up A Mountain Bike!

  • Straighten your wheel without a truing stand.

Spin the wheel and spot the point where it jogs left or right, using either the brake pad or your finger against the frame. When the sway aligns with the pad, stop the wheel and find the corresponding spoke. Mark it with tape for recognition, and using the appropriate spoke-wrench, tighten it. Carry out this whole process repeatedly until all the spokes are in perfect condition.

  • Glue a tubular.

Remove any dried old glue first, and if it’s new, clean it with acetone while wearing rubber gloves. On the tire’s base tape, now apply a thin layer of glue evenly using a brush. Pat it over the spoke holes around the rim, and let it dry for almost an hour. Now, apply the second coat and let it rest for another half-hour.

With the valve hole at the extreme top, hold the wheel in a standing position (you might need a helper). Hold the tire from the top-left and top-right, then push the valve down into the hole, and start stretching and adjusting the tire into place. As the bottom approaches, lift the wheel to pop on the last section.


Once you are done with all these steps, your bike is all-ready to hit the streets and trails with all its might. But don’t forget to put on your mountain bike accessories to enjoy a well-equipped, safe and reliable ride.

Best Of Luck!


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